Lifestyle, Sustainability

The Best Vegetarian Fast Food Options (not salads!)

If you’ve ever decided to cut meat from your diet, you know this scenario all too well:

It’s the middle of the summer and you’re on a family road trip. It’s nearing 1:30pm and you’ve been in the car for two or three hours and everyone is getting a little hangry. Someone suggests stopping for a quick lunch, and you’re heart and mind start racing. Because you’re probably in the middle of no where, fast food is your only option. But you haven’t eaten fast food in a while because nearly every menu item includes some sort of meat. You’re ravenous so a salad won’t cut it. What are you supposed to do?

Fortunately, many chains have seen the light that comes with catering to non-meat eaters, so there are many more vegetarian fast food options out there than you might think. Next time you’re in this situation, look for these restaurants that are common crowd-pleasers, but come in clutch with vegetarian options. You’ll never feel like a burden to your family again because you need to eat somewhere “special.”

Taco Bell: The Most Vegetarian Fast Food Options

Photos courtesy of Taco Bell

Taco Bells are pretty easy to find, making it a great option for long road trips. While I have never personally eaten at Taco Bell, I know they have the most extensive range of vegetarian fast food options on this list. On their website, they say that nearly every menu item has a vegetarian alternative and most of these items contain some combination of beans and cheese (not bad, just a warning). All of their ingredients used in these menu items are American Vegetarian Association certified, and many of them are also vegan!

Burger King: The Impossible Whopper

Like Taco Bell, Burger King is also extremely accessible in most places. Their Impossible Whopper is the most astounding imitation of a burger that I’ve ever seen, and I honestly questioned if they gave me the right order when I first tried it. The Impossible “beef” patty looks, feels, and tastes exactly like a regular burger, and they top it with all the fixings: tomato, lettuce, onion, pickles, mayo, and ketchup. I’ve heard rumors that some McDonald’s in the U.S. have a similar option, and I am *shocked* that they haven’t made it more widely available to keep up with their largest competitor. If you’re looking for a true meatless burger replacement instead of a (probably) dry and flavorless veggie burger, Burger King should be your go-to.

A Few Vegetarian Fast Food Options at Chipotle

Photo courtesy of Chow Vegan

If you are really in the middle of no where no where, this might be hard to find, but if you stop at a small strip mall or rest area, there’s a good chance you’ll find a Chipotle. Their fajitas are pretty good in a bowl, tacos, or a burrito, but I like to add the sofritas for a little extra oomph. If you haven’t tried it, sofritas is shredded tofu marinated in a mild spicy sauce and it’s A+. My go to order is:

  • Brown rice bowl
  • Black beans
  • Sofritas
  • Mild salsa
  • Corn
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • Guac

Shake Shack: ‘Shroom Burger

Photo courtesy of Tripadvisor

While Shake Shack probably won’t be found on a road trip through the country side, there’s usually at least one in almost every major city making it a great spot for a quick lunch when you are visiting one of them. Sometimes a day/weekend trip to a big city means packed days with a busy itinerary that makes it difficult to have a leisurely lunch. If you’re looking for lunch spot in between museums or tours with a great vegetarian fast food option, Shake Shack is your spot. Their ‘Shroom Burger is a delicious option for vegetarians and meat-eaters alike. The deep fried cheese-stuffed portobello mushroom is topped with all the regular fixings of their signature Shack Burger (including the sauce!) making it just as, or even better, than their meat options. Don’t forget to order a milkshake + a side of fries!

While there are a few other well-known fast food chains with vegetarian options that aren’t salads, I know that these four have locations nation wide in the U.S. Feel free to comment other chains that you know are vegetarian-friendly in your region if you don’t see them here! With this knowledge in mind, you’ll never go hungry on a road trip again or annoy your family insisting you find somewhere else to eat. Sure, you could get a depressing Caesar salad at Wendy’s, but if there’s a Burger King right across the street, why would you? Hopefully more chains see the success of having meatless alternatives on their menu so that a blog post like this one is no longer as valuable. Stay full, veg friends.

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